Many schools across the country are progress monitoring students in early literacy skills in order to prevent later reading difficulties. In kindergarten, many schools assess phoneme awareness, letter identification, and letter-sound fluency. Starting in first grade, schools monitor reading decoding skills such as nonsense word fluency and reading passage fluency.
Why then are so many students still referred for special education for reading struggles in third grade?
In early grades, a student's reading skill is largely based upon his or her ability to break the written code, or decode the words on the page. However, at older grades, reading progress is limited by language skills. For many years, language researchers have shown that early language abilities are directly correlated to later reading comprehension:
The association between language comprehension at 54 months and reading comprehension in fifth grade is large and statistically significant (Justice, Mashburn, & Petscher, 2011).
Half of children with language impairments meet the criteria for a reading disability in second grade (52.9%) and in fourth grade (48.1%) (Docrell, Lindsay & Connelly, 2009).
Yet schools do not routinely and systematically monitor early language skills of all students.
Researchers Douglas Peterson and Trina Spencer say:
“From our clinical experience, it is clear that it is still not standard practice in schools to monitor language growth or provide explicit language instruction to students. The consequences of this gross oversight are clearly manifested in the poor performance on the high stakes reading assessments children are expected to take each year.”
At Speech Language Literacy Lab, our mission is to change this. We've created a universal language benchmarking assessment called the Kindergarten Language Benchmark Assessment (KLBA) that takes just four minutes per student. The KLBA assesses four areas highly correlated to fifth grade reading comprehension. It can be administered by any trained staff member, and it will measure language growth three times over course of the kindergarten year.
The KLBA will help your school identify students who are at risk of later reading comprehension struggles. Using the data as a guide, schools can create systems of language support to ensure that all children are learning.
For more information, contact us at email@example.com
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Docrell, Lindsay & Connelly. "Explaining the academic achievement at school leaving for pupils with a history of language impairment: Previous academic achievement and literacy skills." Child Language Teaching and Theory, 2009.
Justice, L., Mashburn, A., Petscher, Y.(2011) “Very Early Language Skills of Fifth Grade Poor Comprehenders.” Journal of Research in Reading, 2011.
Petersen, Douglas and Trina Spencer. Narrative Assessment and Intervention: A Clinical Tutorial on Extending Explicit Language Instruction and Progress Monitoring to All Students. SIG 14 Perspectives on Communication Disorders and Sciences in Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CLD) Populations, April 2014, Vol. 21, 5-21.